“Wine at 30K Feet: Aer Lingus”

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“The Roads from Adare to Kilkenny”

 

You arrived yesterday, from Boston or New York,

and you strode right on up to the counter,

then you signed on the line and in quite a short time

you’d rented a car and climbed in her.

 

If you’re licensed or not, well, nobody asked you,

nor did they inquire of your sight,

of your history drinking, indeed, no one was thinking,

yet you’re sure things will turn out alright.

 

The M7 was wide and she got you there fast,

now you’re soaring with confidence plenty,

but the way winds and turns and your stomach will churn,

on the roads from Adare to Kilkenny.

 

You depart early morn, Irish sun in your eyes,

a flat white in the coaster beside you,

as you shift with your left, at which you’ve ‘come quite deft,

you roll down your window and you sing too.

 

At the roundabout you give a shout, take three lefts

just to get going right,

soon the hedges grow tall and the lane grows quite small,

passing lorries it gets a bit tight.

 

As you roll right along, the paths snake and they coil,

and the places to crash are aplenty,

so you hug the left side, pray and swallow your pride,

on the roads from Adare to Kilkenny.

 

To drive is a simple enough task, so you say,

you’ve been doin’ it since you were small,

but to navigate these – twists and turns, rocks and trees,

shall require a champion’s gall.

 

Sure you feel quite grand with the shifter in hand,

and the fine leather seat underneath you,

but to be self-assured is to be quite absurd,

for to perish is easy, it’s true.

 

So beware over there with the wind in your hair,

cruising north of a hundred and twenty,

for more skillful than you have met their end too

on the roads from Adare to Kilkenny.

 

Though the views look for sure like a tourist brochure,

if you’re smart keep both eyes straight ahead,

with the bends un-foretold and the twists in the road

if you don’t you’ll soon surely be dead.

 

Sheep and cattle seem scared, and the deer rarely dare

to set hoof on the paths that you drive,

the beasts seem – this is true, to care far more than you,

if at the end of the day they survive.

 

There is so much to see in the Irish country,

the pubs and the castles are many,

giving places to swill, catch your breath, take a pill,

on the roads from Adare to Kilkenny.

 

Soon the clouds gather round and the rain starts to fall,

and the turns in the roadway grow slick,

but when you think to slow down you decide with a frown

that to be late would make you quite sick.

 

When a tractor you see you swing into a hedge,

just to find there’s a wall underneath,

so you grind your Peugeot all along the hedgerow,

as your brakes and your passengers screech.

 

You’ll be greeted no doubt with a clap and a shout,

should you make it alive, by the many,

who have come before you and nearly perished too

on the roads from Adare to Kilkenny.

Ireland was every bit as magical as we expected it to be. Leaving during the school year, and during cross country season no less, had caused me a little stress, but I managed to chin up and bear it.  Fortunately so — what awaited us in Ireland was the sort of stuff people come back annoyingly prattering on about for years after, and I suspect we’ll be like that too. The country is stunning, as if from a storybook, and the various cultural experiences, the scenic views, half marathons, ubiquitous castles, pub musicians, weddings in castles, and serpentine roads surrounded on either side by looming hedges were things we will remember always. Of course, in order to have all of these wonderful experiences — and attend the wedding of a friend, we had to get to Ireland first.

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Unrelated to wine, Sonja and I opted to drive to Minneapolis and fly direct to Dublin. To do so cost $550, whereas to fly from Omaha to Chicago to Rejkjavik to Dublin cost $1,300 and took, as one might imagine, substantially more time. When we arrived at MSP after a five-and-a-half hour drive, we felt we’d earned a drink, so we sat down in a Vino Volo — and airport wine bar, and ordered a flight and some cheese.

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Upon boarding our Aer Lingus flight, we got settled in and awaited dinner. There was something exciting about a vacation to Ireland, about being away from the kids on our first international trip since 2013 when I moved to London shortly after we were married, about alone time.  We chatted, carrying on where we left off from the car ride, but time set in and we started to get tired. Dinner arrived just in time.

Sonja ordered the sparkling option, a Veuve-Olivier brut in a predictable .187, from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. The bubbles were weak, but the flavors of green apple and citrus were pleasant. It has a 3.4 average rating on Vivino — not bad for airline wine. Reportedly you can purchase this bottle at Aldi.

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I found my meal to be very nice, in particular the Greek salad with clumpy feta cheese. I ordered red wine, though I often try not to on flights. White wines are cheaper to make, generally speaking, so often I find them more agreeable when they’re chosen for me. The La Habanera Tempranillo, no vintage, from Valencia, Spain, was… fine. Not good, but fine. It was red and a bit flimsy, with relatively one-dimensional fruit flavors and what felt maybe like traces of oak from chips or staves in the vat; it functioned as table wine on my folding seat-back table and added a little something I suppose to the beef in my shepherd’s pie. It has an average Vivino rating of 2.7, but I gave it 3, writing “Boring but not bad”. Perhaps, when you fly Aer Lingus, dear reader, you should opt to try the white wine.

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Once in Ireland, we rented a car, rented a castle, and had a wonderful time with so many friends whom we had not seen for far too long. We left Dublin quickly in favor of rural countrysides and never looked back, celebrating the nuptials of a very old, very dear friend of mine (who used to be our neighbor), and eventually after the wedding making our way to Kilkenny where Sonja and I ran a half marathon, her first since having kids!

The wedding was beautiful, perhaps the most amazing I’ve ever been to, and I hear the wine they served was quite nice, though the kegs of Guinness and bottles of Red Breast being passed around held my attention from wine for most of the evening. When in County Limerick, do as the… er… Lepre… er… anyway, the Guinness was beautiful, unlike anything I’ve had over here. We’ll leave it at that.

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Ireland is a beautiful nation and, similar to so many of the trips I’ve taken to California wine country, as we were leaving I found myself plotting our return. When we do, we may again opt to drive to MSP, though I suspect next time we won’t drive home in the wee hours of the morning. And when we do, we will surely fly Aer Lingus once again. I won’t shy away from their wines, and I suspect I’ll enjoy their food, though in Ireland, the nitro taps and whiskey stole the show for me.  I hope you find your way to Ireland yourself soon. It is absolutely worth a visit — or perhaps several of them.

Cheers,

Mark

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4 responses to ““Wine at 30K Feet: Aer Lingus”

  1. Sounds like a great trip. My wife is part Irish and wants to make the trip, especially since we visited Italy a few years ago. But the pictures posted are beautiful. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In Italy there is the Vatican which is spectacular and the Roman ruins like the forum and Coliseum. Have to say my favorite town was San Gimignano. Beautiful! Not a fan if Milan though

    Liked by 1 person

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